By Daniel Hunter

New company cars have been named among the key investments SME businesses plan to make in 2015, according to research from leasing provider Lex Autolease.

The bi-annual Business in Britain survey of 1,500 companies found that almost half (48%) of all management teams plan to raise money to invest in their businesses in the first six months of the year.

New vehicles were identified as a key area of spend by 8% of businesses, alongside other frequently-named priorities such as new plant and equipment, employee training and overseas expansion.

Company vehicles were a particular priority for small firms in the construction and transport sectors, with 28% and 20% of respondents respectively planning to either invest in buying or leasing a company vehicle this year.

This appetite for investment comes despite the Business in Britain report recording a more cautious outlook from SMEs for the New Year. Since the last survey in July 2014, the report’s key confidence index has decreased by ten points to 43%, down from a record high. This was largely driven by decreases in firms’ expectations of profits and orders over the next six months.

Andrew Hogsden, Senior Manager, Strategic Fleet Consultancy at Lex Autolease, said: “It’s significant that company cars and commercial vehicles remain on SME’s shopping lists, despite a reduction in business confidence. This signals a growing appreciation of the wider benefits of investing in vehicles, such as maintaining a professional image, reducing carbon emissions by operating a more fuel efficient vehicle as well the many other efficiency benefits of running newer vehicles.

“As cautious optimism remains the prevailing mood of the day, we expect to see an increase in small businesses opting for vehicle leasing over outright purchase as a means of managing costs and accessing the vehicles they need to grow.”

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